Merrill Teranis amp -- A Review
*** Part 1 -- Musings And Externals ***
Sometimes we discover audible magic by a serendipitous leap of faith which lets us overcome some aprioristic skepticism that otherwise prevented us from even paying any attention to an electronic component, a speaker, or a set of wires. On other occasions, a sudden hunch suggested we might have hit “pay dirt” from the very beginning, but more often than not, uncovering the magic that a component is capable of generating requires steadfast patience to allow the device to blossom through proper break-in. And sometimes, we might discover a component that performs well above expectations for its price point.
Yet, in some rare occasions, such path to the nirvanic might have been thwarted by our initial brush with niggling sonic artifacts that might have tampered our enthusiasm, perhaps because of some initial sub-optimal synergy with our ancillary equipment.
Perhaps, if we afforded the component a fresh second chance, after delicate adjustments of some internal or external parameters, magic finally might emerge.
Such has been my fascinating experience with the Merrill Audio Teranis—a an attractively priced Ncore-500 based stereo amplifier that delivers a musical experience much more refined than its $2500 price has any right to demand.
Meticulously double boxed, Teranis emerges as a handsome steel chassis, fronted by a gleaming stainless steel plate which is bolted onto the inner structure with a generous number of counter-sunk screws. A LED panel in the middle of the front plate houses a power meter. Power is reported from -60db to 0db in 3db increments: -60 -21db is shown with green LEDS; -18db to -12db is in yellow, and -9db to 0db is in Red.
The bottom of the chassis features a mute/operate toggle switch close to the front, as well as brightness controls for the LED information panel. This odd placement of controls is perhaps the only part of the Teranis mechanical package to give me pause. Why aren’t controls on the front plate? Access to switches and brightness pot is certainly possible for my skinny fingers that can slide under the chassis supported by four soft rubber domes, but operation is by no means comfortable or even intuitive: is Teranis powered on with the toggle to the right or the left… I do not seem to remember from one power up cycle to the next.
Twin Cardas XLR inputs with silver plated copper pins grace the right side of the efficiently designed back panel of this differentially-balanced power amplifier—no, no RCA inputs available on this purist. Four 5-way Rhodium-plated copper speaker binding posts emerge from the middle, and a Furutech gold-plated 15A IEC inlet is featured on the left side. Traditional Merrill attention to detail continues internally, with all wiring made from silver-plated copper with Teflon jackets.
In the next instalment of this log, I will discuss some of the internals, and then will delve into the break-in and listening experience of this remarkable little amplifier.